The Beacon

Ocean Hero Finalists: Wyatt Workman

This is the ninth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured junior ocean hero finalist is eight-year-old Wyatt Workman, who may be familiar to some of you since we have written about his activism and artwork before.

But in case you don’t know Wyatt, he is quite a special young ocean lover. A talented artist, he has dedicated himself to getting the word out about the plastic pollution fouling our oceans. Through his artistic endeavors, including a book, clay figures, and a claymation movie, “Save the Sea from the Trash Monster!”, Wyatt has raised nearly $4,000 for Oceana.

In late 2010, more than 300 people attended Wyatt’s art show, where he sold out of all 70 art pieces he made. He now has a waiting list for his art and he gets about 10-20 people a day signing his website pledge to make changes in their lives to keep trash - particularly plastic - out of the ocean.  

He was also recently honored by the Pacific Aquarium in Long Beach, CA as their Young Hero of the Year, his book has been named "Book of the Month" by A&I Books in Los Angeles, and he has been featured in Time Magazine for Kids.

Whew! Impressive for an eight-year-old, huh?

Have you voted yet? Check out the other finalists, cast your vote and spread the word! And stay tuned for more spotlighted finalists in the coming days!

Special thanks to the sponsors of the Ocean Heroes Award for making all of this possible: Nautica, Revo and For Cod & Country, the new book by chef and National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver.


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Oceana’s Expedition Shows Need to Protect the Baltic

As a part of European Maritime Day, today Oceana’s team in the Baltic released some initial findings from the ongoing expedition. They presented guidelines for the protection of the Baltic Sea, including rules for sustainable fisheries management, habitat protection and ending harmful fishing subsidies.

The expedition team has been documenting the incredible biodiversity of the Baltic; check out the latest photos - from beautiful nudibranchs to grey seals to a dead jellyfish in the oxygen-deprived bottom of the deepest part of the Baltic:

These photos reveal the impact of pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices on the Baltic, but they also show areas with healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, providing a window into what the Baltic Sea could look like if Marine Protected Areas are expanded and well-protected, and if laws and regulations are fully enforced.

Studies have shown that such enhanced protection measures and more stringent management of fish resources would benefit fishermen and local communities dependent on fisheries, as well as at-risk ecosystems.

Stay tuned for more from our team in the Baltic!


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Ocean Hero Finalists: McKenzy Haber

This is the eighth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured junior ocean hero finalist is Homer, Alaska native McKenzy Haber, who hosted the first ever TEDxHomer Teen conference in 2010, with a theme of sustainability.

McKenzy and several other teens adapted the TED model to get the word out about ocean conservation to 140 teens and adults in Homer, Alaska and 1,800 livestreaming online. The conference included talks about the oceans, climate change in the Arctic and Antarctica, and ecological economics.

At the 9th World Wilderness Congress, also known as WILD9, he gave a plenary speech called "Dear Developed Earth," to world leaders about teen leadership and protecting wild Alaskan waters. “Many delegates came up to me afterward crying and saying how moving it was,” McKenzy wrote via e-mail. Watch it and see why McKenzy is such an inspiration:

WILD9 - McKenzy Haber (English) from The WILD Foundation on Vimeo.


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Oceana’s Seafood Fraud Campaign Launches Next Week

Fish and chips. (image via Wikimedia Commons)

Think back to the last time you ate seafood: Do you know what species it was and where it was caught? If you think the answer is yes -- we hate to break it you, but you might have been fooled.

Seafood fraud is making it extremely difficult for consumers like you to tell where your seafood comes from, and in some cases, what it is, with major consequences for ocean health, your health and your wallet.

At Oceana we think this is a serious problem, and next week we are launching a brand new campaign to change it.

A whopping 84 percent of the seafood eaten in the United States is imported, but only 2 percent is currently inspected and less than 0.001 percent specifically for seafood fraud. Seafood fraud can come in many different forms, from mislabeling fish and falsifying documents to adding too much ice to packaging.

Our seafood is following an increasingly complex path from fishing vessel to seafood processor and ultimately our plates. As a result, very little information follows seafood through the system. Recent studies have found that seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25 to 70 percent of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Carter and Olivia Ries

This is the seventh in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

I’ve spent the last week telling you about our adult Ocean Hero finalists, and now it’s time to spotlight the younger set -- our inspiring junior finalists.

First up are 10-year-old Carter and 8-year-old Olivia Ries, who have been involved in saving the planet for an impressive portion of their young lives. In late 2009 they started their own nonprofit organization “One More Generation” (OMG), whose goal is to raise awareness about endangered species around the world.

In 2010, OMG created the following video:


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Dirk Rosen

dirk rosen

Dirk Rosen flies an ROV at the Farallon Islands 27 miles off of San Francisco, California.

This is the sixth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

At age four, Dirk Rosen’s mother taught him to fish. At age 10, he learned to dive for abalone. In college, he earned his tuition teaching scuba diving.

Guided by this lifelong love of the ocean, Dirk has spent his career applying his expertise with robotic submarines to protect deep-sea marine ecosystems.

Working in and around deepwater environments (2000+ feet deep), Dirk discovered an urgent need to develop more accurate fish and habitat assessments in order to sustainably manage marine resources. In 2003, he founded Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE), a non-profit research organization, to collect deepwater data on marine ecosystems using state-of-the-art technical tools.


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Oceana’s Spring Digital Mag

Hey ocean lovers, the spring issue of our digital magazine is now available! We’re pretty excited about it; here are some of the features this time around:

*A stunning photo slideshow of Chile’s Salas y Gomez Island, where we recently helped create the world’s fourth-largest no-take marine reserve.

*Comedians Rachael Harris and Angela Kinsey join Oceana to save sea turtles.

*Victory! Belize ends trawling once and for all.

*Video of Jeff Bridges’ performance at the 2010 SeaChange Summer Party.

*Trailer for Ted Danson’s new book, “Oceana”.

Check out the full issue to see the videos, photos and stories, and spread the word!


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Maria D’Orsogna

maria d'orsogna

This is the fifth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Maria D’Orsogna is a physics and math professor in California, but in her spare time, she has been fighting offshore drilling in Italy, where she spent 10 years of her childhood. She has even earned the nickname “Erin Brockovich of Abruzzo” for her efforts to rally the public and officials to end drilling in the region.

Abruzzo, which may be familiar to you from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine (a bottle of which I have sitting at home), is a primarily agricultural region east of Rome. The Adriatic Sea is nearby, along with a marine reserve (Torre del Cerrano), a Coastal National Park (Parco Nazionale della Costa Teatina) and several regional reserves, such as Punta Aderci, where dolphins are often spotted.

Maria’s activism started in 2007, when she discovered that the oil company ENI planned to drill in the coastal town of Ortona, Abruzzo. The company would uproot century-old wineries to build a refinery and a 7km pipeline to the sea.

Maria reports that there was very little information about the industry’s drilling plans, nor analysis on what it could mean for the region’s agriculture or fishing industries. At the time, Italy had no laws regulating offshore drilling.

While fighting the onshore refinery, which was ultimately defeated, Maria said via e-mail, “the attack on the sea began. I had to get involved.”


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Peter Wallerstein

peter wallerstein

This is the fourth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

For more than two decades, Peter Wallerstein has been rescuing marine animals on the coast of California.

In 1985 he founded the Whale Rescue Team, which is now part of Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), a project of Friends of Animals. Peter started a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report stranded or injured marine mammals, and he has personally rescued more than 4,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California, from stranded dolphins to whales tangled in gillnets.

Thanks to Peter’s persistence, Los Angeles County now has the only professional marine mammal rescue team in the U.S. that conducts hundreds of rescues each year, working 24/7 if needed. In April he conducted 86 marine mammal rescues, 120 for the year so far.

Now Peter is working to address the lack of adequate care facilities for marine mammals. After a decade of work, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has authorized MAR to design, construct and operate a second marine mammal care facility in Los Angeles County.


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Exploring Oceania, Supporting Oceana

Almost a year ago we told you about Oceana supporters Neville and Catherine Hockley, who for the past four years have been circumnavigating the globe on Dream Time, their 38 foot sailboat. They left behind their lives on land to pursue their passion – exploring the world by sea.

So far they have sailed a whopping 16,000 nautical mile and done some incredible things: they’ve swum with humpback whales in Niue, free-dived with giant manta rays in Fiji, and visited the enchanted islands of the Galapagos. The couple also writes articles about their travels, and the proceeds go towards Oceana’s work to protect the oceans.

They shared with us some of the thousands of gorgeous photos they have taken, and we wanted to share them with you too:


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